Blizzard Giveth and Blizzard Taketh Away
I’ve been having a hard time logging in to WoW as late. It’s not a technical problem as much as a motivational one. My Death Knight has become less fun to play, my desire to play a Paladin (which I find to be extremely fun, as I enjoy DPSing, tanking and healing) is at constant conflict with my desire to play a gnome (which I have an ‘unhealthy’ obsession with as some have told me) and most of all I’ve kind of hit a wall with Cataclysm. I’ve completed Loremaster of Cataclysm, I’ve run every dungeon on normal (which apparently does NOT give an achievement this time around), and yet I still feel unprepared for Heroics in terms of experience. It’s an old problem that dates back to Burning Crusade in which I only ran 2 heroics during the entire expansion because I constantly felt unprepared for the ‘incredibly difficult’ heroics (By the time I actually did one, I couldn’t tell you there was a difference in difficulty. Hows that for perception vs. reality.)
It’s been a big topic for a lot of people. Heck, back when talk was first starting about Cataclysm Heroics, I even postulated my own theories which were quickly debunked in the comments thread as my previous experiences with heroics had come at a time when I was playing on the “Worst Server in the Game” (We were dead last for progression of any WoW server for quite some time and our multitude of forum and trade chat trolls were quick to shred apart any and all who dared to roll on that particular realm), so my point of view may have been skewed when I said it was the standard that one did Karazhan to gear up for Heroics.
Ultimately, there has something that has been bothering me since Cataclysm came out with the ‘heroic Heroics’ that has been itching just under the surface and I wasn’t able to put my finger exactly on it. The ‘Heroic Wall,’ as I’ve come to call it, is apparently quite the roadblock for some, and a simple distraction for others. I was wondering why this was and I found myself recalling some of the tips I was given back when I first starting running a Dungeons & Dragons game.
Granted, maybe D&D is not the best mindset to have when talking about the biggest MMO of all time. Still, there is an intent to balance there. A desire to make fights hard, but winnable. An overwhelming desire for things to not be ‘EZ Mode.’ So it’s a jumping off point really. But there was always two golden rules I learned during my time spent as a Dungeon Master: 1. Never punish players for performing simple tasks. (Ex: “I open the door.” “The handle of the door is poisoned, you lose half your health and must make an endurance check every time you do something and if you fail you die.”) and 2. Never take away something your players. (Ex: Rust Monsters need to DIAF.)
That second point is where the catch comes. Wrath of the Lich King was easy for many. Too easy for some. From being able to grind rep without stepping into a dungeon, to being able to buy tier 9 and sweep through heroics like a hurricane decimating a tent that was put on a Florida beach for some psuedo-ironic picture of “roughing it in the wild.” So the step taken for Cataclysm was to invert that, make it hard for many. Too hard for some. But the simple fact remains, if you’ve tasted paradise, it’s gonna suck hard when you get keister knocked back to wandering Nöd. That’s the biggest fault of Cataclysm that I can see. The sheer shock of things being flipped on their head for people.
Of course this has given to dissent amongst the gaming populous, those who enjoy the new difficulty have risen to its defense calling those who have succumb to the shock as being ‘Wrath Babies’ – a term that I have grown to dislike more and more with each time I see it used. Like the string of words ‘Welfare Epics’ or ‘Two Girls and a Cup’ I imagine it will almost instantly invoke a guttural reaction in people in some form or another. The stigma mostly comes as a result of this shock effect.
Imagine waking up to find a fresh great tasting cup of coffee ready for you every morning for two years. Then one day, it stops. It’s gonna take you a bit to get back on track and work out how this is going to affect things. Now you have to allocate time and effort in the mornings to make or get some coffee when you previously didn’t have to. That’s gonna alter your schedule a bit I imagine. Sure, lots of people will just say ‘l2Starbux n00b’ and move on without paying you a second thought (or expending that second thought in an effort to rub in the fact that they can easily rework their schedules to get coffee). Even worse, imagine this is the only way you’ve EVER gotten your coffee. You don’t know where there is a Starbucks, or how to incant the eldritch words to the barrista to summon a fresh coffee from the void (It’s a $%&#ing LARGE and start carrying soda, ya coffee sniffing freaks.) There is no sympathy out there for the ‘Instant Free Delicious Coffee Babies.’
The same thought goes for WoW though. It’s a question of how quick people can adapt to change. For two years, we were accustomed to- Nay, CONDITIONED to – respond to the content with a strictly Wrath view point. Now, all that is wrong. Those who can’t adapt as quick as others are mocked and laughed at, or scornfully thrust out of groups for being ‘bads’ and ‘Wrath Babies.’ Would some degree of transitionary phase hurt? You can’t even say questing is enough of a preparation because unlike Wrath, where quests ranged in difficulty (Yes, some group quests were soloable by a number of classes, others would rip you apart), questing in Cataclysm is disproportionally easy compared to the content you’ll witness at 85. The only group quest I could actually find was the Crucible of Carnage, and wouldn’t you know it, THAT quest is actually a pretty good prep course for dungeon bosses. I never thought I’d say this, but we needed more group quests like that.
While I wish I could say this all just mean spirited trolls and frustrated souls trying to fit in to the new pecking order, in the end it’s all in Blizzard’s hands. This is how they designed the game, this is how they want you to play the game. They’ve been very clear that they like to maintain a very firm hand on the reigns of how things unfold (their success in this matter is up for debate. Lest we recall Chill of the Throne and its predecessor, Sunwell Radiance.) They’ll design the game as they see fit, and those who continue to play will continue to play, those who want to leave will either stick around and complain or move on to greener pastures, and some of us like yours truly will probably find their own ways to have fun.
However, that transitionary phase I sought is coming. Getting some justice points in normals is a great step toward it. It gives incentive to many who are conditioned still to the WotLK POV to run normals and get used to how the dungeons and fights work before jumping straight to Heroics, without sacrificing a chance to build up the necessary currency to get the better gear. In the end, I expect things to ultimately even out. Heroics will become easier as content moves forward. I wouldn’t be surprised that we’ll be AOEing everything down again in heroics when the final raid for the expansion comes round.
Then again, I’ve proven time and time again that I’m terrible at guessing these things.